As Australians, our nation once took great pride in our laconic and well calibrated BS detector.
And when it came to politicians attending sporting events – green and gold tracksuit or not, cue the boos and the cries of ‘get off the stage’.
No more, it seems.
In this social media-driven, celebrity-obsessed era, it appears even the public profile afforded our politicians covers a multitude of sins.
Scott Morrison defended his absence at Uluru over the weekend, as traditional owners celebrated the official end to climbing on the rock.
The Prime Minister instead chose to attend a Perth charity telethon and the Constellation Cup netball.
“I can’t be in two places at once,” he said in Sydney on Monday.
And why would he be?
Instead of answering tricky questions about Indigenous recognition in the constitution, or getting on the wrong side of the thousands who have rushed to climb the rock in the weeks before the climb was closed, the PM got the star treatment courtside.
Morrison was given a Diamonds’ polo shirt with ‘ScoMo’ on the back and a fair chunk of the half-time coverage on Channel Nine to espouse the government’s funding of netball programs.
If sport really is a force for good in Australian life, instead of buying into the ‘daggy dad’ PR stunts, Channel Nine would have done well to throw a curly one in.
Indigenous netball participation rates, anyone?
Netball around the country has been introducing specialist programs to assist in this regard, but there is still much work to be done and even more questions that could be asked of the PM.
It has to be said, netball, as Australia’s biggest elite sport for women, deserves its place in the spotlight – but the focus on Mr Morrison throughout the broadcast rivalled Channel Seven’s obsession with broadcasting Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and his sons after every Magpie triumph or tragedy.
It’s embarrassing when there are so many more worthy young sports stars in the arena we could be seeing and diminishes the profile and achievements of the real stars – the players.
Like many Australian kids, Mr Morrison’s daughters Lily and Abbey are netball fans and it would have served the game better if the PM had been given a seat in the gods, a $5 merchandise voucher for a $75 polo, and left alone with his family, allowing him the occasional glance at the Supercars results.
Then we’d buy the daggy dad act.
Mr Hockey, Ric not Joe
Hockey (no, not Joe, we’re done with the politicians for today) is another Australian sport that is played at an elite level, but often struggles to breakthrough on mainstream media.
But Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander is clearly a fan.
After Australia’s Constellation Cup win, AAP revealed that Alexander used an old trick from Hockeyroos gold medal-winning coach Ric Charlesworth to help inspire her team.
“We did a Ric Charlesworth. I let them coach themselves on Tuesday,” Alexander said. “We didn’t tell them, it was a shock. They did really well.
“The idea was to get them talking and take responsibility to step up and to know what to do in the critical moments, and I think you saw that out there [on Sunday].”
Star goal shooter Caitlin Bassett said she and the players embraced the move.
“Being a Perth girl, I’d heard of the Ric Charlesworth [tactic], where he set the training and then hid in the bushes and watched to see what the group had done,” Bassett said.
“When we got to training and Lisa said you’re going to coach yourselves, I was like, ‘Yep cool, here we go’.
“I think it definitely gave the group confidence. That’s what Lisa’s really good at – empowering us players.”
Fury has no trouble holding up his pants
The boxing world has become much smaller, fractured and less relevant in recent years as the brutality of mixed martial arts (MMA) has eaten into its traditional market, but there has been one shining star through it all – Tyson Fury.
Like the best heavyweight boxers of all time, Fury divides opinion, but is never short of something interesting to say.
On the weekend it was his declaration that he did not have a lot left to prove in the sport and would likely hang up the gloves after another three bouts.
The 31-year-old is wrestling Braun Strowman in WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, but on February 22 will return to boxing to fight Deontay Wilder after their controversial draw last year.
Asked if he wanted to take Wilder’s belt in February, Fury responded: “His belt doesn’t mean anything to me because alphabetical titles don’t mean anything to me. I am above all that.
“When you are the lineal heavyweight champion, you are the best of your era.
“I have tonnes of belts at home and plenty that I hang my trousers with. Belts are very useful and the most useful belt is the one I am wearing today to hold my trousers up.”
I have a meme … the itchy and scratchy show
English football manager and currently manager of Cardiff Neil Warnock may have seen it all in his career, but it was what was going on behind him that has attracted a lot of attention online this weekend.
It’s been a scratchy start to the season for Cardiff City, going down on the weekend to Swansea City 1-0 and sitting 14th in the Championship.
Sport thought …
“I must say that, losing the previous four matches against them, it could have gone their way again … We would love to win the World Cup. We play a class England team in the final now, but we’ve really got a chance and we might go all the way, you never know.”
– Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus is hardly filled with confidence for the World Cup final